VSoft Technologies Blogs


VSoft Technologies Blogs - posts about our products and software development.

I'm not usually one for publishing roadmaps, mostly because I don't like to promise something and not deliver. That said, we've had a few people ask recently what is happening with Continua CI. 

Disclaimer - nothing I write here is set in stone, our plans may change.

A few weeks ago, I wrote up a "roadmap" for Continua CI on the whiteboard in our office. Continua CI 1.8.x has been out for some time, but we have been working on 2.x for quite a while. The length of time it is taking to get some features out is a cause of frustration in the office, that lead to a lengthy team discussion, the result was a "new plan". 

One of the reasons we had been holding features back for 2.x, is they required a change in the system requirements. Many of the third party libraries we use have dropped .net 4.0 support, so we were stuck on old versions. So rather than wait for 2.0 we will release 1.9 on .net 4.7.2. This will allow us to release some new features while we continue working on 2.0, and to take in some bug fixes from third party libraries.

This is "The Plan" :

Version .NET Framework x86/x64 Min OS Version UI Features
1.8.x 4.0 both Windows Server 2003R2 MVC 4  
1.9.0 4.7.2 x64 Windows Server 2008R2 MVC 5 New Notifications types
1.9.1 4.7.2 x64 Windows Server 2008R2 MVC 5 Deployment Actions
1.9.2 4.7.2 x64 Windows Server 2008R2 MVC 5 Import/Export
2.0.0 netcore 2.1 x64 Windows Server 2012 MVC 6 New Architecture
3.0.0 netcore x.x x64 Windows Server 2012 TBA New User Interface


Let's break down this plan.

1.9.0 Release

The 1.9 Release will built on .net 4.7.2, which allowed us to take updates to a number of third party libraries, most notably NHibernate and Npgsql (postgress driver). These two libraries factor heavily in the performance improvements we see in 1.9.0. 

The major new feature in 1.9.0 will be a completely redesigned notifications architecture. In 1.8, notifications are quite limited, offering only email, xmpp and private messages. There was very little shared infrastructure between the notification types, so adding new notification types was not simple. You could only use 1 mail server and 1 xmpp server.

In 1.9.0, notifications are implemented as plugins*, using a common architecture that made it much easier add new notification types. You can also define multiple notification publishers of the same type, so different projects can use different email servers for example.

Notification Types :  Private message, Email, XMPP, Slack, Hipchat, Stride. More will follow in subsequent updates (let us know what you need).

*We probably won't publish this api for others to use just yet, as it will be changing for 2.0 due to differences between the .net framework and .net core.

If you are running Continua CI on a 32-bit machine, then start planning your migration. Supporting both x86/x64 is no longer feasable, and dropping x86 support simplifies a lot of things for us (like updating bundled tools etc).  We will continue supporting 1.8.x for a while, but only with bug or security fixes. The minimum OS version will be the same as for the .Net Framework 4.7.2 - since Windows Server 2003R2 is out of support these days, it makes sense for us to drop support for it. 

1.9.1 Release

Deployment focused actions.  

  - AWS S3 Get/Put
  - Azure Blob Upload, Publish, Cloud Rest Service, Web Deploy
  - Docker Build Image, Push Image, Run Command, Run Image
  - File Transfer (FTP, FTPS, SFTP)
  - SSH Action
  - SQL Package Export, Package Extract, Package Import, Package Publish
  - SSH Run Script
  - Web Deploy

These actions are all mostly completed, but are waiting on some other (UI) changes to make them easier to use. We'll provide more detail about these when they closer release.

Note : These actions will only be available to licensed customers, not in the free Solo Edition.

1.9.2 Release

One of the most requested features in Continua CI, is the ability to Export and Import Continua CI Projects and Configurations. This might be for moving from a proof of concept server to a production server, or simply to be able to make small changes, and import configurations into other projects. The file format will be YAML.

Continua CI 2.0 Release - .net core.

We originally planned to target .net framework 4.7 with Continua CI 2.0, but with .net core improving significantly with netcore 2.0 and 2.1, the time is right to port to .net core. The most obvious reason to target .net core is cross platform. This is something we have wanted to do for some time, and even explored with mono, but were never able to get things working in a satisfactory manner. It's our hope that .net core will deliver on it's cross platform promise, but for now it's a significant amount of work just to target .net core. So that said, our plans for Continua CI 2.0 is to get it up and running on .net core on Windows only, without losing any functionality or features. During the port we are taking note of what our Windows dependencies are for future reference. 

The current (1.8.x) architecture looks like this :

Browser <----> IIS(Asp.net with MVC)<--(WCF)-->Service <--(WCF)-->Agent(s)

With .net core, it's possible to host asp.net in a service process, and that is what we have chosen to do. This cuts out the WCF layer between IIS and the service. .net core doesn't have WCF server support, and to be honest I'm not all that cut up about it ;) That said, we still need a replacement for WCF for communication between the agents and the server. We're currently evaluating few options for this.

Continua CI 2.0  architecture currently looks like this :

Browser <----> Service(hosting asp.net core 2.1/mvc)<--(TBD)--> Agent(s)

The current state of the port is that most of the code has been ported, the communication between the agents and the server is still being worked on, and none of the UI has been ported. We do have asp.net core and mvc running in the service. There are significant differences between asp.net/mvc and asp.net core/mvc, so we're still working through this, I expect it will take a month or so to go through and resolve the issues, then we can move on to new features. 

Continua CI 2.0 - new features.

Rest API. This is something we had been working on for a while, but on the .net framework using self hosted Nancy (in the service, running on a separate port from IIS). Once we made the decision to port to .net core, we chose to just use asp.net rather than Nancy. Fortunately we were able to use much of what was already done with nancy on asp.net core (models, services etc) and we're currently working on this right now..

Other features - TBA

Continua CI 3.0 - A new UI

Asp.net MVC has served us well over the years, but it relies on a bunch of jQuery code to make the UI usable, and I'll be honest, no one here likes working with jQuery! Even though we ported much of the javascript to typescript, it's still hard to create complex UI's using jQuery. The Stage Editor is a good example of this, even with some reasonably well structured javascript, it's still very hard to work on without breaking it. The UI is currently based on Bootstrap 3.0, with a ton of customisations. Of course Bootstrap 4.0 completely breaks things so we're stuck on 3.0 for now.

So it's time to change tack and use an SPA framework. We've done proof of concepts with Angular and React, and will likely look at Vue before making a decision - right now I'm leaning towards React. Creating a new user interface is a large chunk of work, so work will start on this soon (it's dependent on the rest api). We're likely to look at improving usability and consistency in the UI, and perhaps a styling refresh. 

Linux & MacOS Agents - with .net core running on these platforms, this is now a possibility. We looked at this several times before with Mono, but the api coverage or behavor left a lot to be desired. We do still have some windows specific stuff to rework in our agent code, and Actions will need to filtered by platform but this is all quite doable.

Summing up

We're making a big effort here to get features out more frequently, but you will notice I haven't put any timeframe on releases outlined above, they will be released when ready. We expect a 1.9.0 Beta to be out in the next week or so (currently testing the installer, upgrades etc), and we'll blog when that happens (with more details about the new notifications features). Note that it's highly likely there will be other releases in between the ones outlined above, with bug fixes and other minor new features as per usual. We have a backlog of feature requests to work from, many of which are high priorities, so we're never short of things to do (and we welcome feature requests). 

Showing 0 Comment

Comments are closed.